Herbs have always contributed to human health and their use goes back to antiquity. One of the first books about herbs, De Materis Medica, was written about A.D.60 and is attributed to the Greek physician, Dioscorides.
The manuscript was circulated for hundreds of years throughout the Middle Ages and the West and it has been used as a reference source by many herbalists. It contained the properties of over 600 plants.
Pillar # 3 – Aromatic herbs
Aromatic herbs are essential in Mediterranean cuisine although initially they were used mainly for their healing properties. Many of these herbs are still used both in the kitchen and as natural medicine. Let us take a look at some of them.
Fresh basil is used much to combat the lack of appetite or the feeling of satiety but is also essential for the preparation of pesto or tomato and mozzarella salad. It combines perfectly with all tomato-based dishes, but also with vegetables such as eggplants and zucchini, mushrooms and even salad sauces.
Basil should always be used fresh. Cut it directly on the plate as it loses its aroma if it is dried, cooked or frozen.
Sage leaves are an exquisite condiment for veal, lamb and pork meats. They also give an interesting flavor to vegetables, pasta and tomato dishes. You can dry it or freeze it. An infusion tea made with sage leaves can be used for gargling to treat mouth and throat infections.
The incomparable scent of rosemary makes this herb apt for seasoning a rib of lamb as well as fish dishes. It is also perfect to season ground meat and tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, and potatoes. And it is almost essential for any kind of pizza.
Rosemary can be used in its dry form but is better to cut its small leaves with a knife while it is still fresh. Rosemary infusion relieves gastric, intestinal and gallbladder problems, while a bath with rosemary oil is a relaxing and comforting experience.
Suggestion: rosemary or thyme tea infusion
Pour 150 ml of boiling water over a teaspoon of rosemary or thyme leaves and keep it covered for 15 minutes. Then, filter the water, let it cool a little and drink it slowly.
Thyme harmonizes perfectly with all vegetables, but also with typical fish or meat Mediterranean dishes. You can dry it out. It is frequently used to treat coughs and bronchitis, both acute and chronic because of its expectorant and bactericidal actions.
Oregano is the main condiment for many tomato-based sauces. Its unmistakable scent is ideal for pizza and for goat cheese salads. It is also indispensable for some meat dishes such as the Greek gyros (a dish made of meat roasted on a vertical spit, and generally served as a sandwich with tomatoes and onions wrapped in pita bread).
Along with thyme and rosemary, is one of the ingredients of the “herbs of Provence”. It can be used both as dry and fresh. It contains a few bitter substances that help digest fats. In traditional medicine, it is used as an antispasmodic and expectorant, as well as anti-inflammatory.
Most of our modern medicines are obtained from wild herbs. Learning how to use herbs can be a rewarding process because it will allow you to use a few of them to treat some of your family’s illnesses and to learn a preventive way of living. Prevention is one of the first things that you want to look at when learning to keep you or your family healthy.
Many of the prescribed drugs are stored in the liver or other organs and eventually, your body will stop responding to a certain drug that could be a life-saver if used for emergency treatment only. A healthy, chemical-free diet and lifestyle help strengthen your immune system and thus allows the body to heal naturally.
You can start your own aromatic herb garden since all the above plants can be easily cultivated in any garden or balcony and they grow perfectly in flower pots. If the plant grows too much, just cut some of the branches and dry or freeze them.